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I am leaving for about 7-8 hours and I was wondering if it's possible to pop the ribs in the oven before I leave and have them come out super tender. Ive seen some recipes that suggest 250 for three hours. Can I go even lower and leave them in for longer?

Also: is it bad to have the oven going (even at a low temp) if I'm not at the house?

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Not really an answer, but the traditional way people do long cooking while they're away is braising in a slow cooker. –  Jefromi Aug 25 '12 at 17:42
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6 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

To achieve "done" pork ribs should reach an internal temp of 160°F (71ºC). The longer it takes to get there be more tender they will be. I would not recommend going any lower than 200°F (93ºC) for your cooking temp, even if that means turning the heat up a little at the end to reach your internal temp of 160°F. Put a good rub on, wrap the racks of ribs (individually) in aluminum foil, with some beer or cola in there (or other braising liquid) and let them go. For a video of how to do this watch this episode of "Good Eats" All of that said, I have never tried to let the ribs go 7 hours unattended, so I would try it when you have the time to hang around and monitor the internal temp, again looking for 160°F internal temp and that will give you a means to determine what is "done".

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Note to readers without an account who think that the temperatures cited here are incorrect: You should post your own answer (we mods can also convert it to a comment if it is very closely related to this post). Our editing function should not be used to change the meaning of a post. If you disagree with the author, putting your opinion into his post is misleading. Just explain it in your own post. –  rumtscho Feb 27 at 19:04
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I use this guy's technique for grilling ribs, which calls for 5-6 hours at 225°F (105°C) on a grill or smoker (3-4 hours for baby backs). I've done them many times this way and they're absolutely delicious. I don't see any problem at all upping that to 7 hours and lowering the temp to 200°F (95°C). I wouldn't wrap them in foil or add liquid, but I probably would tent them with foil.

And assuming you have a modern gas or electric stove, there should be no problem leaving it on while you're away. People do that the world over every day.

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Start them at 350 for fifteen minutes then Slow cooking at 185-190 will result in the best ribs you've ever eaten. Smother them with your favorite rub, salt and pepper in a covered dish in the oven. once the meat is tender to your liking let them cool so you can smear them with your favorite sauce and reheat them on the grill.

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If you drop the cooking temperature low enough, you should be able to let the ribs cook for 7-8 hours. At 225f or 250f, I would be worried about coming home to a mushy mess, but at 200f it should be about right. You definitely do not want to foil your ribs. That will speed the cooking process, which you do not want. I would be pretty hesitant to cook a roast or a whole animal at such a low temperature, as the volume of meat that is away from the surface could keep the interior at unsafe temperatures for too long, but with ribs there should be no safety issue.

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A couple things- 1- Cooking at a higher temp won't turn the meat to mush- it will make it cook too quickly, won't melt collagen, and might overcook. 2- Foil slows the cooking process considerably because only conducted and not radiant heat reaches the food. It also keeps the meat from drying. –  Sobachatina Jul 4 '13 at 13:35
    
"and might overcook." Which will turn the meat to much. Foil does not slow the cooking process. It can keep the very exterior of the meat from drying, but it also will speed the cooking of the meat. It negates the evaporative cooling effect, which is a condition that impedes the rise of the meat's internal temperature. –  Sean Hart Jul 5 '13 at 13:18
    
I have empirically tested this often with turkey. Turkey meat covered with foil will be somewhere around 20 deg F cooler than meat right next to it with no foil. –  Sobachatina Jul 8 '13 at 22:55
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I do them at 190 for 6 hours - terrific. Next I'll try longer at 170.

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This does not really answer the question. If you have a different question, you can ask it by clicking Ask Question. You can also add a bounty to draw more attention to this question once you have enough reputation. –  sourd'oh Oct 16 '13 at 22:17
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Try browning the ribs on the grill over med. heat for about 15 minutes per side. Use your favorite rub. Then do wrap tightly with foil and cook in oven at 200f for 5 hours.Apply BBQ sauce when you are done. This recipe is a favorite for most ladies and guys who like the tender, fall off the bone style. You get the grill flavor and the convenient oven style cooking...

Try sweet baby ray BBQ sauce or Montgomery Inn sauce form cinti. You can order on line. It's great!!

Oven temps vary...best to rely on internal temps as in previous recipes.

Just prepared today !!! Outstanding!!

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The question specifically asks whether there's a temperature and/or technique which allows leaving the ribs cooking unattended for 7+ hours. Instructions for cooking them in 3-4 hours don't answer the question. –  Peter Taylor Jul 3 '13 at 14:57
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Sorry for the confusion. Made an edit that may be more specific to this question. –  Bob Jul 3 '13 at 18:59
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